Saturday, June 25, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Responsible Prison Reform
By NCPA @ 6:32 PM :: 3086 Views :: Law Enforcement

Responsible Prison Reform

NCPA July 10, 2013

Over the past few decades, the United States has witnessed an enormous increase in the number of people in jail and in prison. As a response to surging crime rates in the 1960s and 1970s, the nation got "tough on crime" (stepping up policing, increasing arrests and lengthening sentences), producing hordes of new inmates. In 1979, around the time that imprisonment rates began their sharp uptick, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 314,000 people sat behind bars in the United States. As of mid-2013, that number stood at about 2 million. Today, the United States has roughly 5 percent of the world's population and nearly a quarter of its inmates, says Eli Lehrer, co-founder and president of R Street Institute.

The evidence shows that this mass incarceration has performed more or less as advertised.

  • By any measure, nearly every neighborhood, city and state in the United States has become safer over the past two decades.
  • Crime rates in many categories are at less than half of their all-time highs.

However, the costs of incarceration (both financial and societal) are also becoming increasingly clear. The policies that were appropriate for a nation that had one of the highest crime rates among developed Western countries are not necessarily appropriate for a nation that now has one of the lowest.

Crime rates started dropping in the early 1990s and have fallen almost every year since. While new policing tactics, demographics and cultural trends certainly contributed to the decline, there is no doubt that mass incarceration did as well.

  • The benefits of this decline also manifested themselves in the plunging costs of crime to society.
  • The most recent systematic effort to calculate the costs of crime, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2010, concluded that each murder costs society nearly $9 million, each rape more than $240,000, and even simple motor-vehicle thefts more than $10,000 each.
  • As such, preventing even a few crimes can be well worth the financial costs of incarceration, since a single convict might commit dozens of crimes in a year.

Policymakers thus face a paradox: Locking up lots of people has contributed to a significant drop in crime that, at least from a political perspective, has helped to "solve" a once-major social problem. But incarceration is overused, expensive and offensive to democratic values. Combined with a renewed emphasis on effective punishment, increased attention to circumstances within jailhouse walls, and a different social attitude toward ex-offenders, these sound, time-tested principles can shape the new vision for prison reform that America urgently needs. The United States can and should reduce its prison population and make conditions more humane for those who serve time behind bars.

Source: Eli Lehrer, "Responsible Prison Reform," National Affairs, Summer 2013.

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT